Current trends in technology for the provision of legal information.

Author:Chan, Scarlett

We live in a world where communication happens instantaneously and copious amounts of real and false information can be spread rapidly to a large number of people. Information has become so abundant that those who aren't well-versed researchers can easily be overwhelmed and have difficulty determining what information is useful to them, as well as what is real and what is fake. In fact, 2017 will likely go down in history as the point in time when "alternative facts" became a suitable explanation for the continued disbursement of wrong information.

Proponents of technology argue that it is wonderful because, despite information overload and the increased confusion caused by the spread of unreliable information, the ability to communicate instantaneously and use technology makes life more convenient, and people are better informed than they have ever been. Tasks like banking, shopping, ordering take-out, organizing our daily affairs, and even finding a date are generally done using a computer or cell phone now instead of the "old-fashioned way."

In the context of the law, technology is increasingly being used to provide free access to basic legal information that is easy to understand. Research that used to require combing through hundreds of articles, publications and other information sources has been simplified by websites, phone apps, and Internet chatbots designed to interact with users in a particular geographic location in a quick and easy question-and-answer style. Users follow prompts or type in simple questions and the website, phone app or chatbot provides legal information about that issue. Public legal education organizations such as the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) exist across Canada to provide accessible, plain language legal resources both online and in print.

For example, on the free cell phone app LegalSwipe, people can quickly learn what their rights are during an interaction with police in five regions in Canada and the United States. Users simply select from a list of questions about the interaction and are told what they can do based on their answers to the subsequent yes or no questions. Additionally, users can record video and audio of the interaction, which is then automatically uploaded to Google Drive, or send an emergency message to a pre-selected contact, although these functions are not yet operational.

As another example, websites like and allow users...

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